Global networking vendor 3Com has taken an environmentally responsible approach to its offerings, making it possible for network owners to be more energy efficient – and, thereby, reduce the risk to their operations of South Africa’s erratic electricity supply.

“In the process, organisations who exploit our green networking options automatically also contribute to the overall health of the planet, enabling them to pay rather more than lip service to their environmental responsibilities,”  Tracy Lawler, 3Com South Africa’s distribution and channel manager.
Information technology (IT) equipment, consumer electronics, and telephony consume power at the rate of at least 250 TeraWatt hours (TWhr) per year worldwide. That’s the equivalent of over 180 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 35 million cars, or $20-billion per year. About half is accounted for by IT equipment – PCs, displays, printers, servers, and networks.
3Com has proved that it can drop energy usage in a network by up to 78% while actually increasing an organisation’s network functionality.
“That’s a significant saving when you consider that just over 1% of the total consumption of commercial building electricity results from the use of networking equipment,” says Lawler.
“The trend towards converging previously separate data, voice, and security networks places increasing demands on a network. Traffic becomes more complex and diverse, so network performance must improve. That creates a need for better security and network control. It also becomes increasingly critical for the network to remain highly available and resilient. All of which takes its toll on electricity consumption.
“As a network provider, we’ve taken very seriously our responsibility for reducing power consumption via the network and have taken steps at all levels of the network to make that happen.”
Focusing on energy efficiency – using less energy to achieve the same output – 3Com has reduced the power consumption of all its managed stackable switching products, the main driver for networking power, by as much as 78%. This lessens the heat generated by the system, and in turn, the cooling in wiring closets and data centers needed to control the heat.
The savings created in this way directly offset electricity operating costs. A move to these switches in a typical network – 100 Ethernet switches (approximately 2 000 networked nodes) that are never turned off at night or put into sleep mode – not only produces a staggering 89.2 Watt savings per switch, but also enhances functionality and throughput performance. Those savings would correspond to all of the following:
* 77,890 kWh – the equivalent of lighting 62 homes for a year
* 78% or US $5,530 per year on electricity costs
* Reduction, by 56 tons, of CO2 entering the atmosphere
* Removal of 10 cars for a year from roadways
* Planting 15 acres of trees.
3Com has also migrated to the latest 90nm (nanonmetre) silicon processor technology. Innovations in reducing leakage current enable these processors to support a 35% increase in speed counter-balanced by a 60% reduction in active power needs.
In addition, 3Com has designed more efficient power supplies. An average computer wastes about 30-40% of the electrical power it consumes – converting it into heat and, therefore, requiring larger fans to cool the system. 3Com’s new power supplies have greater than 80% efficiency under full load.
Many 3Com systems are designed to detect when the fans need to run at lower speeds, eliminating the use of power for unnecessary cooling. The company has also engineered fanless products.
“And, we’ve made a difference to Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality by allowing customers to set maximum power output based on what is connected to a port. We also provide intuitive management of the total power budget so that no power is wasted,” Lawler says.
“In other words, 3Com is committed to individual designs with lower power requirements as well as the eventual reduction of all power needed to run 3Com Secure Converged Networks.”
3Com spearheads some of the industry’s efforts in this direction, including the new Energy Efficient Ethernet standard. It also champions multi-vendor operability as the best way for organisations to access their network’s full power efficiency, cost-effectiveness and flexibility. And, by tightly integrating applications and services within the network infrastructure, 3Com OSN enables unparalleled flexibility, visibility and control of network traffic and application performance as well as the optimum use of network power.